DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
District of New Mexico

For Immediate Release

Thursday, May 26, 2016
Damon P. Martinez
, United States Attorney
Contact: Elizabeth M. Martinez

Chaves County Man Pleads Guilty to Violating Federal Firearms Laws

ALBUQUERQUE – Abel Montoya, 53, of Lake Arthur, N.M., pled guilty late yesterday afternoon in Las Cruces, N.M., federal court to violating the federal firearms laws.  Under the terms of his plea agreement, Montoya will be sentenced to 36 months in federal prison followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court.

Montoya was arrested on Oct. 21, 2015, on a criminal complaint charging him with being a felon in possession of a firearm on Feb. 27, 2014.  On that day, the Pecos Valley Drug Task Force (PVDTF) executed a search warrant at Montoya’s residence and seized two firearms.  

Montoya was subsequently indicted on Jan. 20, 2016, and charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.  At the time, Montoya was prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition because he previously had been convicted of cocaine trafficking and possession of methamphetamine.

During yesterday’s change of plea hearing, Montoya pled guilty to the indictment and admitted that on Feb. 27, 2014, he possessed two firearms, one of which had an obliterated serial number.  Montoya acknowledged that he was prohibited from possessing firearms because of his status as a convicted felon.

Montoya remains in custody pending a sentencing hearing which has yet to be scheduled.

This case was investigated by the Las Cruces office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the PVDTF with assistance from the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Randy M. Castellano is prosecuting the case.

The Pecos Valley Drug Task Force is comprised of officers from the Eddy County Sheriff’s Office, Carlsbad Police Department and Artesia Police Department and is part of the HIDTA Region VI Drug Task Force.  The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program was created by Congress with the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988.  HIDTA is a program of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) which provides assistance to federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in areas determined to be critical drug-trafficking regions of the United States and seeks to reduce drug trafficking and production by facilitating coordinated law enforcement activities and information sharing.


Phoenix Field Division